Mid-Staffordshire NHS trust report: the key findings

Feb 6, 2013

Francis inquiry into NHS scandal blames culture of targets and urges hospital staff to admit mistakes

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THE RESULTS of an inquiry into one of the biggest scandals in the history of the NHS - where up to 1,200 patients at two Mid-Staffordshire hospitals died between 2005 and 2009 through neglect - have been released this morning. Chaired by QC Robert Francis, it took oral evidence from 164 witnesses over 31 months and amassed over one million pages of evidence. Here are the main conclusions:

Duty of candour: Staff in the NHS should have a legal obligation to come clean when their mistakes affect patients, the report says. Patient safety advocate Peter Walsh told The Guardian that if the proposal was accepted by the government it would represent "the biggest advance in patient rights and patient safety in the history of the NHS". The report recommends both medical staff and managers should expect to be prosecuted if patients are harmed by poor care, and hospitals which fail to comply with a "fundamental" standard of care should be forced to close.

Compassion, not targets: David Cameron is expected to announce a new post, a chief inspector of hospitals, in response to the report, which blames "metrics and league tables" for creating a culture of targets in the NHS instead of one of compassion, writes the Daily Mail. "We need a hospital inspection regime that doesn't just look at numeric targets, but makes a judgment about the quality of care" the Prime Minister is expected to say. The report also recommends inspector teams should include more doctors and nurses.

Increased scrutiny: Francis's report calls for better training for nurses and healthcare assistants as well as an overhaul of regulation which will help sack bad managers. The report also recommends greater supervision of health care assistants and hospital managers, the Daily Telegraph notes. According to the paper the government want to introduce transparency instead of more bureaucracy in the health service. A source says, "you can't legislate to make people compassionate".

Nicholson cleared: Although many key figures in the NHS management will be accused of incompetence, the report does not hold Sir David Nicholson accountable for the failings. The health service's current chief executive ran the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority, which oversaw both Stafford and Cannock Chase hospitals between August 2005 and April 2006. Campaigners and members of the victims' families have previously called for his resignation in light of the scandal.

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